Turning 50 in Antwerp… Part two

When Bill made the hotel reservation, he mentioned it was my birthday. De Witte Lelie Hotel offers upgrades, when available, to those who book directly. Bill booked a Junior Suite. The next step up was, of course, the Presidential Suite. I’m not sure if anyone booked it. We were given Room 9, which is pictured on the hotel’s Web site. All of the rooms are individually decorated. Room 9 really is a very unique room, accessible by a couple of flights of stairs. Room 9 has gold wallpaper that made me feel like I was in a glass of champagne.

On the back wall, there was a sliding door decorated with flowers and multi-colored holograms. Inside the bathroom, there was a huge bathtub, shower, and turquoise blue tiling with silver and shiny multi-colored flecks. One wall was decorated with Marilyn Monroe wallpaper. Another had a huge tiled mosaic of flowers. Three glass fish hung from the ceiling over the tub. It was definitely the funkiest, most stylish hotel bathroom I’ve ever seen. The toiletries were Hermes, which I loved!

The room had a king sized bed, made up with a duvet and several comfortable pillows. We brought two of our own, just in case, but we would have been very safe leaving them at home. They don’t skimp on pillows at this hotel. The bed was VERY comfortable. I wish I had thought to ask who provides the mattresses to De Witte Lelie, since we both really liked the one in Room 9. There was air conditioning that worked well, and a complimentary minibar stocked with local beer, still and sparkling water, Coke, and juice. There was also candy and applies available if we had the munchies, but if we needed anything stronger, the reception was willing to bring drinks to the room. Or, we could have hung out in the courtyard and enjoyed libations there.

Since there was no restaurant at the hotel, we did decide to venture out for food. By sheer luck, we ended up at a very cool restaurant called Brewers’ Kitchen. Open only a year, this place focuses on dishes that use beer, and it’s run almost entirely by its chef and his girlfriend, who is, herself, very knowledgeable about beer. There were only two tables outside, and both were taken, so we sat by the window. That was actually a lucky thing, since we got quite an interesting show while we dined on innovative beer inspired cuisine…

But before I get into the side show, I want to write more about the restaurant. The chef/owner quit his job in 2017, got trained to be a chef and zythologist (beer sommelier). The restaurant has a small menu, and everything is made at the moment. I liked that, since everything on Friday night’s list of main dishes included mushrooms, and I don’t eat mushrooms. Since nothing was pre-mixed, the chef was able to make my dish without fungus. The chef only buys ingredients that come from within 40 kilometers of Antwerp, to include local beers from Belgium and the Netherlands. He also told us that he is interested in buying from farmers, brewers, and suppliers who respect the planet. Everything he presented was organic, and could be matched with a beer.

Bill and I went all in with the experience. The menu changes often, since it’s based on what is available. Most days, the chef has a meat, fish, and vegetarian dish. Vegan is possible if one makes a reservation and mentions a desire for vegan cuisine at the time of booking. Brewers’ Kitchen had no fish option on Friday, since there was an issue with their supplier. However, he did have lamb chops, which Bill loves. I went for the vegetarian option, roasted celery root, which I had never had before. I have to say, I found it surprisingly enjoyable. It might have been because there was a lot of butter in it! We prefaced the main courses with a starter of white asparagus with smoked fish and a poached egg.

After the main course, we both had dessert. Bill had a small warm cake with buttermilk ice cream, fresh strawberries, and salted chocolate caramel sauce. I had a Dame Blanche (white lady), which is vanilla ice cream, warm chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. What made the desserts special, though, is that the ice cream was house made. The vanilla ice cream was actually made while we waited!

The whole time we were eating, there was some kind of party going on in the street. Next to the restaurant was a little art gallery of some sort. The chef’s girlfriend told us that Antwerp is a very artsy city, and there are a lot of young people who attend the university there. I was astonished by the fashion show going on… which she said was probably prompted by the local fashion institute. We saw all kinds of looks going on. Most of the people were very young and hip looking, although some wore clothes that looked like they were influenced by the 1970s. There were plenty of smokers and drinkers, which made me glad we were sitting inside. Still, it was fun to look at the styles they were wearing!

I see from their Web site that they also have an Air B&B apartment for rent. That may be why the chef asked where we were staying. He was very approving when we told him our hotel. Dinner came to about 134 euros, before the tip. We thought it was well worth the money. Bill paid with a credit card and we walked back to the hotel, where we enjoyed our first good night’s sleep. Until 4am, that is… more in part 3.

Below: scenes from our very short walk back to the hotel…


4 thoughts on “Turning 50 in Antwerp… Part two

  1. Andrew says:

    When Amy and I were in Salzburg (our first choir tour in 1987), we ate at the Pitter (sp?) Keller. They served us some gelato desserts with raspberries and kiwi that I could swear they had made within the last hour. It was AMAZING. Would love to experience that again

  2. M Smorg says:

    Wow. Looks like you struck gold with both the hotel and the resto. I have never tried eating celeriac either. Don’t even know if the supermarket next door carries it!

    So, they do have a tip culture in Belgium? Is it around 15-20% like here in the States?

    • We usually round up the bill or, if the service is really good, tip about 10%. Servers in Europe get paid a living wage and have health insurance etc. Some even go to school to be professionally trained. Tips are much appreciated, but not necessarily expected. I much prefer the dining experience because there’s less pressure to turn tables so the server makes more money. They get paid regardless.

Leave a Reply